Howard Carter's home in Egypt reopens to tourists after renovation

Carter House, where the British archaeologist lived during his excavation of Tutankhamun's tomb, was under threat of being destroyed by rising ground water

Elizaveta Yukhnyova, a visitor from Russia, tours the renovated former home of British archaeologist Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. AP
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After being closed for renovations earlier this year, the former residence of renowned archaeologist Howard Carter in Luxor’s Valley of the Kings, where he stayed during his famed excavation of King Tutankhamun's burial place, reopened to visitors on Friday, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the tomb’s discovery.

The first visitors included Egyptian antiquities officials, the British and American ambassadors, representatives of the American Research Centre in Egypt and academics who arrived in Luxor for a two-day conference focused on Tutankhamun's legacy.

The US-funded renovation involved a complete refurbishment of the house's interior in addition to installing a drainage system in the grounds to prevent rising water levels from damaging the mud-brick building, according to Tom Hardwick, a historian who contributed to the work.

The newly renovated former residence of renowned archaeologist Howard Carter on the edge of Luxor's Valley of the Kings was recently updated with new furniture to create a simulation experience of tourists.

“When Carter moved here it was all desert and so the house was made of mud brick, which is particularly susceptible to water damage. But since then, they’ve put a garden around it and so the damp soil began to rot the bricks,” Mr Hardwick said.

The interior of the building was refurbished in an authentic 1920s style and decorated with prints of watercolours done by Carter, who was a prolific artist long before he ventured into archaeology.

Glass cases throughout the residence display items that an archaeologist in the 1920s would have used, including age-worn binoculars, large cameras and a leather case of brushes used in archaeological excavations at the time.

Mr Hardwick said none of the additional items on display belonged to Carter, but were acquired for the renovation to make the visitor experience as immersive as possible.

The renovation of Howard Carter's house included the addition of household items and archaeological equipment from the period when he lived there. Kamal Tabikha / The National

The renovation work aimed to recreate the experience of what it was like to live in the home at the time Carter was there. The house includes a bedroom, a guest room, a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom and a darkroom where Carter developed photographs.

The update was carried out to increase visits to the residence and to encourage the private sector “to respond to global trends in experiential tourism”, according to Louise Bertini, executive director of the ARCE, which secured funding for the renovation from private companies.

A replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb, built underground in the gardens of the house, hosted a photography exhibit depicting Carter alongside members of his team and was opened to visitors on Friday.

The tomb of King Tutankhamun at the Valley of the Kings in Luxor has been a major attraction for tourists. AP

The replica, which was completed in 2014 by a British-Spanish-Egyptian company called Factum Arte, supplements the experience of visiting Carter’s house. However, its main purpose is to reduce footfall at the boy king’s actual tomb, according to Mr Hardwick.

“The replica is exact as far as possible as to size, texture and colour,” he said.

Mr Hardwick said the original tomb, about 4 kilometres or a “a 20-minute donkey ride" away, where Tutankhamun's mummy remains on display beneath a glass case, had sustained damage over the years because of its enormous popularity with tourists.

“When people are inside the tomb, they breathe out, they raise the temperature, the humidity, which can be majorly damaging for the ancient wall paintings. Visitors are a problem in the tombs.”

Updated: November 06, 2022, 8:03 AM